2012 Rose Bowl Recap: Oregon Ducks Fly Past Wisconsin
The Oregon Ducks won their first Rose Bowl Game since 1917 with a 45-38 victory over the Wisconsin Badgers in Pasadena, Calif. Here's how it went down:
When Wisconsin Had the Ball:
The Badgers employed a very balanced offensive attack. Running back Montee Ball's proficiency on the ground played a major role in enabling quarterback Russell Wilson to be so effective with the play-action pass. For example, on Wisconsin's first drive, four Ball runs for a total of 27 yards set up a 38-yard play-action touchdown strike from Wilson to Jared Abbrederis. This diversified attack made the Badgers awfully difficult to defend.
Wisconsin also took its time going down the field, which effectively kept the Ducks defense on the field for long periods of time. However, two costly second-half turnovers ultimately derailed the Badgers' chances. The turnovers are discussed below in our Turning Point section.
When Oregon Had the Ball:
In stark contrast, the Ducks' quick-strike ability was evident from the start. After the Badgers jumped out to a 7-0 lead, the Ducks responded with a seven-play, 80-yard touchdown drive, which took just two minutes and seven seconds. The Ducks' following four touchdowns were scored on drives of 32 seconds, 16 seconds, two minutes and 56 seconds, and 49 seconds, respectively.
Ducks quarterback Darron Thomas kept his team in rhythm by running a no-huddle offense and snapping the ball early in the play clock. Many of Oregon’s plays were options, in which Thomas could either keep the ball or hand it off depending on his reading of the Wisconsin defense. These quick snaps combined with explosive plays from Oregon's talented running back trio (LaMichael James, De'Anthony Thomas, and Kenjon Barner) gave the Badgers fits all game long.
Stat of the Game:
There are so many great statistics to choose from, but one especially pops out to me. Although both teams ran the ball well, the Ducks were especially brilliant. Here we go: Oregon recorded 345 total rushing yards on 40 carries. That is 8.6 yards per carry. The Fischman MVP (seen below) was a huge reason for the 8.6 average, as he ripped off two monstrous runs.
Ducks freshman running back De’Anthony Thomas put on an absolutely incredible Rose Bowl performance. Thomas was only given two carries all game, but he made each of them count. Thomas' first touchdown run went for an electrifying 91 yards, as he set the all-time Rose Bowl mark for longest touchdown run. The run tied the game at 14. His only other run also went for a touchdown and gave the Ducks an early second half lead at 35-28.
If that wasn't enough, Thomas caught four passes for 34 yards and even showcased his speed on a 46-yard kickoff return that set up a quick touchdown for his team. In fact, Thomas’ return gave the Ducks tremendous starting field position at their own 46-yard line. On the very next play, Darron Thomas threw a 54-yard touchdown pass to Barner. It’s hard to believe that De'Anthony Thomas is only a freshman, but it's true. Get used to seeing him burning unhappy Pac-12 opponents next season!
Fischman Honorable Mentions:
Kiko Alonso – The junior linebacker recorded five tackles, two sacks and a very important interception of Wilson, a quarterback who only threw three inceptions throughout the entire year (Alonso's pick marked Wilson’s fourth of the season).
Lavasier Tuinei – The departing senior caught eight passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns, including the 11-yard, fourth quarter touchdown catch that put Oregon ahead for good. Tuinei picked the perfect time to record his only career 100-yard game.
LaMichael James and Darron Thomas were also very good, but two honorable mentions is my maximum.
With his team down by three points (38-35), Kiko Alonso jumped a Wilson pass that was intended for Jacob Pedersen, just four plays after his own quarterback had been intercepted. This play was crucial in that it appeared to swing the momentum of the game over to the Ducks. Just as important, it set up the Ducks offense at the Badgers’ 39-yard line. In typical Duck efficiency, it only took Oregon six plays and one minute, 11 seconds to score what would become the game-winning touchdown.
Although it may not have been as much of a turning point as the Alonso play, the Ducks forced a second turnover that essentially iced the game in their favor. Down seven points with 2:44 to go, Wilson connected on a 29-yard pass to Abbrederis, which would have brought the Badgers just 27 yards away from tying the game. However, freshman defensive back Terrance Mitchell beautifully punched the ball out of the receiver's hands, the ball miraculously remained in bounds and Michael Clay fell on it. After getting seriously burned by Abbrederis, Mitchell could have easily given up on the play, but he maintained his focus and for that, the Ducks are thankful.
Due to the Ducks' ground game, the Badgers woud not get the ball back until the 16-second mark. Having used all of their timeouts, 16 seconds was not enough for Wilson and the Badgers to drive down the field for a game-tying touchdown. Wisconsin simply ran out of time.
Live Up to the Hype?
The 2012 Rose Bowl definitely lived up to the hype. With two of the nation’s top four scoring offenses (Oregon: 3rd in FBS at 46.2 points per game; Wisconsin: 4th in FBS at 44.6 pts/game) squaring off, onlookers got precisely what they expected: a ton of points, early and often. In fact, Monday's game broke the Rose Bowl record for most combined points scored in the first quarter (28), first half (56) and entire game (83).
The game was tied on four different occasions, with neither team ever leading by more than seven points. These high-octane offenses combined for 83 points and 1,130 total yards. Fans were also treated to some big plays such as the touchdown runs by a blindingly quick De'Anthony Thomas, which went for 91 and 64 yards, respectively.
Ducks Cap Off Stellar Season:
Oregon's 2012 Rose Bowl appearance marked its third consecutive BCS Bowl appearance, but the game also marked its first bowl win during that three-year stretch. The win capped off a tremendous season for the Ducks, in which they lost just two games, including a season-opening loss to LSU and a three-point loss to USC, in which the Ducks' comeback just fell short. Other than those losses to the top-ranked Tigers and the No. 5 Trojans (according to the final AP rankings), the Ducks went 12-0. Oregon beat quality teams such as the Stanford Cardinal and Wisconsin Badgers and won each of its regular season games by 14 points or more.
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